Stuart A Staples: Arrhythmia review – A misstep from Tindersticks tunesmith
Stuart A. Staples
Singer / Songwriter
When you’re a musician known primarily for your deep, nasal croon, it’s either a brave or a risky move to release an album that is 50 per cent instrumental.
Stuart A Staples’s tenure as frontman of Tindersticks – the Nottingham band lauded for their forays into swoonsome, often avant-garde indie odysseys, as heard on albums such as the superb Curtains (1997) – has lasted 26 years and counting, but his first solo album since 2006’s Leaving Songs sees him break with tradition.
Three tracks comprise the first half of this album, including A New Real, whose scattered, off-kilter rhythm blooms into life with streaks of guitar, and the painstakingly slow-burning Memories of Love. Step into the Grey is an altogether more cohesive, loungey number, which also leaves room to experiment via playful percussion and jazzy double bass.
The second half sees this album fall apart, however, as a 30-minute experimental instrumental inspired by his partner’s paintings (and used to soundtrack a film on the same topic) rises and falls in frustrating stop-start increments.
Coupled with the album’s oddly structured opening triumvirate, it makes for a record that’s undoubtedly listenable, but not necessarily enjoyable.